One of the most common questions I get from my friends is, “How much do I need when I visit Seoul?” and this question just creates an unorganized catastrophe in my head with numbers. Literally. I never came here to “travel” or “tour” and I never had to pay for accommodation.
So I did a little research on Seoul travel blogs and… Let me just say that it was more of a WHOLE TRAVEL BLOG than just a summary of a budget. This is what I find hard when searching for budget references before travelling somewhere. I just need a range of the price, what I can get from the price range and if there are any other options.
Blame me or my “not thorough enough” research but I google budget and destinations for a week and dig up as much detail as I can before going somewhere. Hey, I like to control my schedule. Tiring, I know but not really.
And when my best friend finally asked “Yow, if anha ko Korea, pila budget nako dapat?” (Yo, if I go to Korea, how much should my budget be?) I began to search for answers. (After a little overtime at work and running and hanging out with friends).
Here is my list of suggestions when it comes to budgeting in Korea. It isn’t perfect but I hope it’s helpful… and hopeful.
I apologize if there are no pretty pictures in this post. Let’s keep it clean…for a while.
Sorry, I can’t accommodate you in our 2-room flat because we don’t even have enough space for all four or sometimes five of us. And I’m also sorry if you don’t have any friends in Korea. That’s just life.
Honestly, this was the hardest part for me because I never needed to look for an “accommodation.” I always got to stay with my relatives. So I did some research, for you.
Types and Prices :
Let’s start of fancy. *gulp*
Price range : KRW 130,000 ~ 350,000/night
Yup, they are pretty expensive. Most of the accommodations that are categorized as “hotels” here are all too sassy for my bank account. Worldwide chains such as Hyatt, Marriott, Four Seasons, etc. can be found in various places around Seoul.
There are also local hotels but their price ranges are similar to the chains. So… *gulp*
2. Boutique or Business Hotels
Price range : KRW 80,000 ~ 120,000/night
Or you can get them at KRW 60,000 a night, depending on the location and quality of the room. The rooms tend to be smaller and are located in central areas. If you are a middle-class traveller then GO FOR IT.
However, be careful to not fall for L…l…lo…lo…velove… Motels. (I have self-developed an allergic reaction to the word, “love.”) Most locals would use these love motels for day-use or a few (3-5) hours use to, you know, “rest” so they say. Love motels can be found EVERYWHERE in Seoul. At times, they look like regular cheap hotels. Some people do stay in those love motels because they primarily serve as “hotels” but be cautious if you do decide to stay in one. I don’t want to recommend it though.
3. Guesthouses and Hotels
Price range : KRW 30,000 ~ 50,000/night
I categorized these two together because it can be quite confusing. Lol. There are guesthouses that look like hostels and vice versa. But their prices are more or less similar to each other.
Guesthouses offer rooms good for one or two as far as I know. (Correct me if I am wrong.) Many of my solo-traveller friends who have visited Korea stayed in guesthouses and were quite okay with it. Housekeeping is self-service of course. Lol. You can ask for a broom at the counter if you find your room too dirty or dusty.
There are hostels that use the name “guesthouses” and offer rooms with multiple double deck beds if you are travelling as a group. And there are your normal hostels that you know of.
Oh the endless choices of food and the budget that comes with it. If you are a big fan on food or the Korean cuisine, prepare to break your piggy banks. (Squeal~ Oink~) I have also categorized it by standard to give a better understanding. (In my own head anyway, let me know if it doesn’t work for you.)
1. Budget Traveler
Price range : KRW 5,000 ~ 8,000/meal depending on where and what you eat
TIP! Restaurants near universities tend to be cheaper and areas that are industrial with loads of office spaces tend to be pricier when it comes to food and everything in general.
Main university areas to check out: Hongik University (Hongdae), Ehwa University (E-dae), Konkuk University (Kon-dae, pronounce Kon as Gun), Sinchon (Where Yeonsei and Sogang university is close to)
Main industrial areas : Yeouido, Gangnam, Jong-ro
Price range : KRW 8,000 ~ 12,000/meal
Most restaurants will be within this price range no matter what you eat in whatever area you are in. Most of my meals are in middle-class or in budget traveller. The taste? It can be okay or absolute bliss.
3. Sky is the limit
No price range. Duh? Eat whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want. It doesn’t matter if it’s Korean food or not. Just go for it. Indulge in everything.
TIP! Seafood is quite expensive in Korea. If you want to try the live-octopus dish or raw fish (Korean style) then go to Noryangjin seafood market. Be careful though, they can rip you off. Negotiate a deal if possible.
Another TIP! Samgyeopsal. Yes, it deserves a separate category and tip. The cheapest price you can get per portion is KRW 8,000 and the most expensive delicious one I had was 14,000. It is really up to you. Most restaurants will have the prices at 11,000 to 12,000. If you want to try a really cheap place, check out my blog about Yeonnam-dong near Hongdae for the cheapest Samgyeopsal place I have been to.
One thing I am proud of in Seoul is how convenient transportation is. It is amazing. The transfer system is very convenient.
Starting prices :
Bus : KRW 1,200
Subway : KRW 1,250
Taxi : 3,000 flag down
For a tourist, it might be very convenient to get around the city by subway and a little more tricky when it comes to buses since there are no stop-guides that are in English. If you do carry a pocket-wifi (can be rented at the airport when you arrive for a price), you can use Google Maps. It is okay-ish accurate.
If you are travelling in 3 or more as a group and you know you aren’t going far away, I recommend you taking the cab. Why? It will most probably be cheaper if the distance will only cost you the flag down rate. Quick calculation will be, subway fare 1,200 x 3 = 3,600, while the taxi flag down rate is 3,000. Especially during winter if it’s too cold to get around, taxis can be a super lifesaver.
But please do remember that Seoul is a very walk-able and walk-friendly city. If the distance and weather is okay, take a walk and take in the beauty of the city and country with your eyes. I was amazed on how unique every area was with their character and personality.
Anyway, that ends my boring and long budgeting advice for travelling in Seoul. If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I will be more than glad to get in touch with you. 🙂
Until next time, keep walking!